Sunday, March 13, 2016

Honduras, Day 7: Cayos Cochinos

Finally, we’ve come to our last full day in Honduras. We were off on our final big adventure – a snorkeling trip out to Cayos Cochinos, a pair of islands about 19 miles northeast of La Ceiba. Despite the looming dark clouds, the boat ride was fairly smooth as we headed out on the open water.

"La Tortuga" - Turtle Island

Our first stop was within swimming distance of one of the islands. Here, there was great snorkeling. The coral reef surrounding the area (known as the Meso-American Barrier Reef) is the second largest in the world! (The largest is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). Our guide informed us that Japan previously held the title for second, but that title was gone after use of explosives, likely for fishing. But here, the water was clear and the reefs were healthy and teeming with fish.

Brain Coral

Lettuce Leaf Coral

There's a fish!

Staghorn Coral

More Brain Coral and an urchin

After a lovely bit of snorkeling, we were ready to head over to the next island for lunch and a little bit of birding. As we came closer to the island, we were absolutely mesmerized by the sights above us and on the edge of the island – 35 Magnificent Frigatebirds! These are one of our all time favorite species, and one that we miss dearly from our South Florida days. We had never seen so many, and definitely not in such close range. We were absolutely thrilled!

Oh, just a bunch of Mag Frigs sitting in a nearby tree

Close-up of some Juvenile Mag Frigs

Juv. Magnificent Frigatebird in Flight - Love that tail!

Adult Male Magnificent Frigatebird

We finally were able to momentarily pull ourselves away from the Frigatebirds while the island residents cooked up a fresh catch for lunch. Our guide for the trip then led us around the tiny island in search of Yucatan Vireos and their unique resident, the pink Boa Constrictor.

Freshest of fish lunches with plantains and rice and beans… Mmmmm….

Checkered-Skipper sp.


The only pink boa we ended up seeing was the one the local children brought up to our boat upon arrival to have us tourists take pictures of it for tips. We didn’t partake in the activity, and wanted to find one on our own, but alas, it was a no go. However, we were quickly perked up by successfully finding Yucatan Vireos, which have a very limited range within the Caribbean coast and islands of Mexico, Belize and Honduras, as well as Grand Cayman and the Bay Islands.

Yucatan Vireo

Yucatan Vireo with a beetle?

Wild Almonds

After lunch, we once again spent our time adoring the Mag Frigs. One was perched on a pole the whole time we were there, allowing for close, still shots. At one point he was resting that big bill of his on the pole. I guess sometimes one just needs a little rest. Other mag frigs just kept flying by with their powerful, graceful flight.

Up Close and Personal

Just resting

We also saw some familiar faces. Sandwich Terns swooped by, and Brown Pelicans somehow delicately perched on the seemingly fragile palm fronds with their bulky bodies.

Sandwich Tern

A young Brown Pelican pondering life

We headed back to our lodge so completely satisfied with our beautiful day of snorkeling, deliciously fresh food, and amazing views of Mag Frigs.

Adult Male Magnificent Frigatebird skimming the water for food

Juvenile Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebirds - So many and so close!!!

My favorite bird silhouette

The last outing we had to take advantage of was a night hike around the lodge. We had already seen our fair share of owls, so anything else would have just been icing on the cake. Well, we didn’t pick up any more owls, and no new mammals like we were hoping, unfortunately. But we did get a good listen of and ok looks at the Red-Eyed Tree Frogs as well as a Variegated Treefrog.

Red-Eyed Treefrog

Variegated Treefrog


And we unexpectedly found a perching Great Black Hawk! It wasn’t an owl, but still a cool raptor to see from a decent distance! Another beautiful winged creature we somehow found in the darkness was a lovely Clearwing-Satyr of some sort. Its clear wings with just a touch of bright pink and bright blue eye spot was just so pretty.

Great Black Hawk

Blushing Phantom - a type of clearwing-satyr

Hummingbird nest

The next morning, we said goodbye to our beloved Lodge at Pico Bonito, sipping on delicious local coffee and watching the hummers and Olive-backed Euphonias buzz around us one last time. It was a trip we will never forget, and we left with amazing photos, but more importantly, amazing experiences.

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